If you were born with or developed problems with your vision, your ophthalmologist likely recommended glasses or contact lenses to help correct your eyesight so you can see better. However, it’s now becoming far more common to treat vision conditions with surgery. Surgery offers a long-lasting solution. For those seeking a surgical solution to common vision problems, the primary options are PRK and LASIK laser eye surgery. A LASIK eye doctor can examine you to determine if you are a candidate for laser eye surgery and discuss your options with you.
Why laser eye surgery?
Glasses and contact lenses can help you to see better, but they don’t treat your condition. You also can’t wear corrective lenses in certain circumstances such as when swimming, a combat sport or as a service member deployed overseas. Prescription glasses and contacts are easy to lose or damage and can be costly when your prescription changes. Correcting eyesight problems with surgery eliminates the need for glasses and contacts.
Options for laser eye surgery
The two main options for laser eye surgery are PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) and LASIK (Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis). Both surgeries involve reshaping the cornea to redirect light entering the eye – the same function that corrective lenses perform. The main difference in the two surgeries occurs in the first phase of the operation. With LASIK, the surgeon uses a scalpel to make an incision in the cornea, creating a flap before reshaping the corneal tissue below. Whereas in PRK, the surgeon removes a portion of the cornea – called the epithelium – with the laser. The epithelium regenerates, so PRK patients experience more discomfort and longer recovery time compared to LASIK patients, and they are also at a higher risk of infection. Both procedures are quick (10 – 15 minutes per eye) and won’t require a hospital stay. Your surgeon will advise you not to drive and to rest for at least a couple of days, as your vision will take time to stabilize. You will also be sent home with prescription eye drops to prevent infection and help with any discomfort.
Which procedure is right for me?
A LASIK eye surgeon can advise you which procedure is best for you. If your eyesight is only moderately poor, you may only need PRK, but for those with exceptionally poor vision, LASIK may offer the best results. PRK surgery may be recommended if your cornea is too thin for LASIK. Some professions, such as being a service member in the armed forces recommend laser eye surgery because contact lenses are prohibited for those deployed overseas or in a combat zone. PRK is recommended for service members and athletes who participate in combat sports over LASIK in case of trauma to the eye which could potentially disturb the flap created during LASIK surgery.
Both these surgeries provide a long-term solution to eye problems. Talk to your LASIK eye doctor about any concerns or questions you might have and to find out what you can expect both during and after surgery.